POLITICAL ECONOMY

Disruptive Technologies Critical To Agricultural Development – DG NITDA

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By Angeline Mgbele, Senior Correspondent, Abuja

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been described as having a critical role in the Agricultural sector that can guarantee cash flow and a major contributor to the nations’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa  said this when he received the Co-Founder of Corporate Farmers International (CFI), Akinwale Alabi, and his team to the Agency’s Corporate Headquarters in Abuja, north central, Nigeria,  to seek possible areas of collaboration in smart agriculture.

Inuwa noted that disruptive innovation using emerging technologies would create new markets and easy access to new products and services.

“There is a need to build these pieces of equipment locally by challenging our startups and tech gurus to come up with solutions to such problems. “The Agency has a Fab-Lab to check the product initiated through a proof-of-concept test. It then proceeds to the fabrication of the product to create a prototype for testing and then later mass production,” the DG NITDA added. 

Inuwa further asserted that there was a need to create a value chain, adding that “creating platform to bring the farmers, up takers, and financial institutions together to ease the purchase of goods and services without leaving your destination. Instead, all you need is to place a request on the platform, requesting the logistics company to pick up and deliver to the point of initiation.”

He said further: “NITDA launched National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) programme to boost the capacity of young Nigerian farmers in the digital world market. NAVSA seeks to digitally transform the agricultural economy of farmers and their business models across all value chains to increase productivity.”

The NAVSA pilot programme was launched at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, (FUNAAB) Ogun State,south west, Nigeria,  with 100 (One Hundred) young farmers. And later at the Federal University of Duste (FUD), Jigawa State, north west, Nigeria, respectively, to create jobs directly/ indirectly in the country.

Inuwa stressed that the NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021 -2024 was a document crafted by the Agency that contained the vision of developing Nigeria into a sustainable digital economy that was prosperous and driven by technology.

SRAP has been tailored to proactively facilitate the country’s transformation into a sustainable Digital Economy but requires an elaborate stakeholder collaboration in implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria.

The NITDA DG said SRAP had seven (7) pillars namely: Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy d Skills, Digital Transformation, Digital Innovation d Entrepreneurship, Cybersecurity, Emerging Technologies and Promotion Indigenous Content Development.

According to him, the pillars would foster dynamic regulatory instruments that would unlock opportunities across different sectors of the economy, enable the development of digital skills of Nigerians across different works of life, provide a robust digital platform to drive digitalization processes in the digital economy and enable innovation-driven small and medium enterprises to thrive adding We expected that the outcome of this pillar would create opportunities for job creation.

He cited that Cybersecurity would strengthen cyberspace and reduce vulnerabilities exploitable by threat actors to create a vibrant digital economy and protect the digital asset and allow citizens to have confidence in the digital economy. 

He added that Emerging Technologies would facilitate the adoption and adaptation of emerging technologies in Nigeria and map the development of the digital economy with sustainable development goals in providing quality education, poverty eradication, good health and well-being, and reducing inequalities. 

Lastly, the DG NITDA said, Promotion of Indigenous Content would create an enabling environment for promoting and adopting indigenous innovation for a digital economy, develop indigenous products and services, increase patronage, and enable iterative problem-solving by indigenous digital technology. 

In his earlier remarks, the Co-Founder of Corporate Farmers International, Mr . Alabi, said the company was known for innovation around the agricultural ecosystem, building technologies, and rendering solutions for the system at large to boost production of agricultural produce. 

“Our major focus is to building young entrepreneurs and youth talents that will shape the narrative of Agriculture. And build a new system that will take Nigeria’s agricultural system to the next level”, Alabi said adding: “I want to commend the DG of NITDA for the giant strides, intervention, programs, and the launch of the Digital Agricultural strategy that concentrates on the Agricultural sector. Taking advantage and being part of the enterprise document will change people’s perception of farming in the country.” 

He further revealed that it developed a system that spoke about Agricultural digital e-learning for young entrepreneurs to plugin quickly and learn easily across the agricultural value chain saying this was done in 2022 when COVID was at its peak and this had helped many farmers gain knowledge about agricultural activities, thereby changing their perception of farming. 

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